Top 10 Movie Sports Showdowns

Top 10 Movie Sports Showdowns

>>Speaker 1: 1 point behind,
30 seconds to go. The crowd’s going wild and
the odds are infinitesimal. It’s the final match, the title bout, the
championship game, the gold medal race. These are our picks for
the top ten sports showdowns of all time.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 2: So a hearty welcome
to all our listeners in England. There are just a few minutes to go before
the kickoff of this historic match.>>Speaker 1: Kicking
us off at number ten, we’re looking at none other than the
beautiful game, which is either soccer or football, depending on how
you pronounce your foil. And while Bend it Like Beckham’s final
match is impossible not to love and the insanity of Shaolin Soccer’s showdown
goes so far over the top that it has to get a mention, there were two other
showings we were torn between. The first was from Goal: The Dream Begins,
a soccer film made in collaboration with FIFA that features actual premiership
players, cleverly integrated match footage, and some of the slickest shot and
most exciting soccer scenes ever filmed. Unfortunately, the mountain of cliches
was just too tall to climb over in order to sneak onto our list, so instead we’re happy to hand our
number ten to Escape to Victory. It’s a story of allied
World War II POWs who face a professional German team in an
exhibition game meant to embarrass them, all the while planning to escape captivity
during the excitement of the match. Sure, it lacks the polish of Gold, but it
more than makes up for it in style, heart, and a far better storyline. And as for actors, who can argue with
Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and mother [BLEEP] Pelé? It’s a great ride and
there’s nothing quite like watching Pelé laser home a slow-mo scissor kick
to land solidly on our list.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 3: There are a lot of
cowboys out there that they’re trying to prove themselves. Some of them are gonna get hurt. So keep your distance,
keep your focus, all right?>>Speaker 1: Next up at number nine, we’ve got to give it to some of the badass
films that feature extreme sports. Now most extreme sports films aren’t so
much stories as they are show reels for the pros, and if that’s what you’re into,
by all means check those out. But if it’s a cinema experience
you’re into and we are, you’ve got to look elsewhere for your extreme drama,
and there are few really good choices. Lords of Dogtown’s got a great tournament
that takes a turn for the violent, and Trashin’ has a pretty cool
downhill skateboarding race that features stunt work from
pretty much every legend ever. And we really like Bodhi’s final
paddle out into the 50 year storm, but if we are talking big wave surfing
we’ve got to give it to the climax of Chasing Mavericks for intensity. Do yourself a favor and
skip the first two-thirds of this movie. But we don’t have a single qualm with
the final sequence that sees 14-year old Jay Moriarty paddling out into
mavericks to ride monster waves, in a final showdown between boy and
nature. The filmmakers don’t hold back. The cinematography and stunt work during
the sequence are absolutely astonishing, and completely makeup for
the color-by-numbers storyline. These are real surfers out there
putting their lives on the line, riding triple overhead waves. Gerard Butler almost died
during the shooting, and that was only in ten foot surf. It’s tense, gorgeous, and awe-inspiring. And for that, we have no problem including
this otherwise underwhelming movie on our best of list.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 1: Of course we couldn’t talk
sport if we didn’t have a spot for racing. So next up at number eight,
that’s exactly what we plan to do. But it’s not for
Breaking Away’s little 500 or even Cool Runnings’ endlessly
lovable Jamaican bobsled team. No, our number eight goes to
the slicker-than-an-oil spill Henley Royal Regatta
>From The Social Network. Most people don’t care about rowing
unless they’re up [BLEEP] creek with or without a paddle. But director David Fincher turns what must
be one of the unlikeliest of movie sports into the tensest of battles. And while it’s often been criticized as
stylistically inconsistent with the rest of the film, which it sort of is,
tilt-shift cinematography and electronic Hall of the Mountain King and
all, it’s an incredibly pivotal
moment in the narrative. Fincher knew he had to drop us into
an event that has had no build up and make us care. Make us believe that this single defeat,
this last straw of just missing first, propels the Winklevi into action. So he pulls out all the tricks in
his rather deep bag to do so, and we think he absolutely nails it.>>Speaker 4: And
welcome to the first annual Two-on-Two for Brotherhood Basketball Tournament,
also known as the TTBBT.>>Speaker 1: Now even though
sports are a lot more emotional for some of us than most serious
political news bulletins, not all of their showdowns are faceoffs
of the greatest consequence. We here at Cinefix also like to honor
those that don’t take themselves so seriously. So if it’s tongue in cheek you’re looking
for, we’ve got a few suggestions for you. There’s the backyard football match from
Wedding Crashers, the rivalry between a pitcher and his own catcher from
Bull Durham, between Bill Murray and a row of peonies from Caddyshack,
the foot race from Talladega Nights, the final from Dodgeball, or
Philip Seymour Hoffman versus Sasquatch from Along Came Polly, and
we loved that pick up basketball match. But for our number seven, we’re actually
giving it to the trash talking tournament from White Men Can’t Jump.>>Speaker 5: What,
you still throwing up bricks? What is this, a mason’s convention? What? Clank, clank, I need like a welding
torch to play in this league here. I got an idea. Let’s stop right now, and
let’s just gather up all these bricks, and let’s build a shelter for the homeless. So that maybe your mother
has a place to live.>>Speaker 1: Watching Woody Harrelson’s
hot-headed braggadocio and [BLEEP] talk is almost as
entertaining as him and Wesley Snipes running a two-on-two
clinic in this Brotherhood tournament. Not only can they play some serious ball, but Woody can spout some
seriously ridiculous bull. And even funnier is watching
his perplexed opponents choke on the insults as they get their
ankles consistently broken. It’s a foul-mouthed, fast paced,
and flashy showdown, but it’s also [BLEEP] hysterical,
which is why we love it.>>Speaker 6: Sup, son?>>Speaker 1: Next up at number six,
we’re sticking to the basketball court, but this time with our serious faces on. And I know, I know we all really want
this slot to go to the Michael Jordan and Bill Murray versus cartoon alien
grudge match from Space Jam, but it turns out that movie is a comedy,
not a documentary. Instead, we considered slightly less
believable games, like the finals from Hoosiers, or Coach Carter, or Above
the Rim, or Passing Glory, or Glory Road. But we didn’t pick any of those
championship winning, crowd screaming, lights flashing grand finales. Our pick for number six is the smaller,
quieter, one-on-on between Denzel Washington and Ray Allen as
father and son in Spike Lee’s He Got Game. It’s about so
much more than just the game, as years of emotion
tumble out on the court. And the best part is that you’re
not dealing with stunt doubles or actors trying to look like
they know what they’re doing. You should know that Ray was supposed to
win 11 to 0, but Spike Lee just told them to play for real, and
Denzel actually knocked those five down. That anger, that’s not the character. That’s Ray Allen getting pissed off. It’s a scene two hours in the making,
but it’s great ball, spectacular drama, and a perfect fit for Denzel and Ray.>>[INAUDIBLE]
>>Speaker 7: Head down. Watch the first line. Go for release.>>Speaker 1: Counting down to
number five, we’ve seen races, but none of those run on foot. So we’re looking to the track for
our next pick. And we liked The Athlete’s look at the
first African runner to win the Olympic marathon and Without Limits’ take on
Steve Prefontaine’s 5000 in Munich. But for our slot, it’s gotta go to the serene 100
meter final from Chariots of Fire. Don’t get us wrong, the Solomon pious
400 meter that follows is good, too. But there’s nothing quite like
the 10 seconds of this 100 meter race stretched over a beautifully taut 2
minutes to glorify the beauty of running. The slow-motion final moments
might be a cliché nowadays, but this is certainly its inception. It’s gorgeously shot,
perfectly scored, and a must-have on the list of any sports fan.>>[INAUDIBLE] [APPLAUSE]>>Speaker 1: Next up at number four, we’re looking at America’s pastime, and holy [BLEEP] does Hollywood
make a lot of movies about it. Like the Athletics’ run at
the postseason from Moneyball. Or the final chance at a home run from 61. Or the Indians winning
it from Major League. But for our number four, we think the best
showdown in baseball took place between the fictional New York Knights and
the Pittsburgh Pirates in The Natural. This heart warmer is just as nostalgic
as it is made up of utter fantasy. But it’s all the better for it. It harkens to a mythical era of
the quintessential middle America, exemplified by romance, and
wheat fields, and baseball. A time and
place that never really existed, but it sure feels like they might have. And here the living legend
is played by Robert Redford, a 35-year old rookie, a natural. And in the final one game playoff for
the pennant, with two strikes down, his lucky bat destroyed, and all odds
stacked against him, he hits one in for the lights, wins the pennant, and rounds the bases in a shower
of glorious sparks and applause. In a world where children are told
legends of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Jackie Robinson,
The Naturals’ final showdown is a perfect fictional addition
to the storybook cannon.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 8: I’m sick and
tired of hearing about what a great hockey the Soviets have. Screw them, this is your time!>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 8: Now go out there and
take it.>>Speaker 1: Closing in on number three, we’re taking it to the ice
with a showdown from hockey. And of course, our minds first go to
the unstoppable brilliance of the triple deke from Mighty Ducks,
then to the all out brawl in Slapshot, and next to the final match in
the recently underrated Goon. But it finally settles on the only
hockey showdown we can justify picking, with the 1980 Olympic upset from Miracle. Pitting massive underdog
Team USA against heavy favorite USSR in this based-on-a-true-story movie,
every minute in the film has been building up to the moment when the clock
downs to 0 and we all believe in miracles. The coverage is realistic, almost
documentary-like, not flashy or obnoxious, and the story benefits
from its source material. It just looks like real
people playing real hockey. And to top it all off, we’re offered the wonderfully nuanced
perspective of Kurt Russell’s Herb Brooks, which gives us a fantastically complex
experience of this historic game.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 9: Now you all
have known me for a while. And for a long time now you been
hearing me talking about being perfect. Well I want you to understand something. To me, being perfect is not about
that score board out there. It’s not about winning.>>Speaker 1: We only got
a few sports left and we’re pretty sure you can guess that
football is going to be one of them. So, spoiler alert, it’s our number two. Now there’s absolutely nothing like
the final touchdown to secure the win, whether it’s a Hail Mary pass or
a forth down QB sneak, so we love the final minutes of films
like Rudy, Remember the Titans and Any Given Sunday for their unique
takes on victory on the gridiron. But our number two pick belongs
instead to the devastation of a loss. We’re talking about the Texas State
finals from Friday Night Lights. Sure, the best thing about the movie
might be the TV series it spawned, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still love
its heartbreaking final moments. So many sports films have given us the
cathartic joy of the last minute clutch, and it’s the kind of story
every fan likes to hear. But the team can’t always win, and Friday Night Lights shows us
what happens when it doesn’t. In fact, it’s an entire movie
about the reality of sports, where everything isn’t wrapped up neatly
with a bow, where players don’t all go on to make it into the pros, triumphantly
summed up in the closing title cards. It’s memorable as both a sports film and
a human drama. It’s honest, even when it hurts, which is why it takes the number
two spot on our list.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Speaker 1: And finally at number one,
the only sport that’s left is bowling. I’m just kidding. And no offense to bowlers, and bowling
movies alike, because lets be honest, who doesn’t love The Big Lebowski? But our number one pick is not a bowling
movie, and it’s not a ping pong movie, or a rugby movie, or a golf movie, or
a wrestling movie, or a pool movie either. Although we’ve got to hand it to
Ping Pong, Invictus, Happy Gilmore, The Wrestler, and
The Hustler respectively. No, our number one
actually goes to boxing. So, what did we pick? We had mentioned before how much we
love Jake Lamotta’s final encounter with Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull. We’re a big fan of Ali’s Rumble
in the Jungle, and we don’t wanna say too much about the
final title bout from Million Dollar Baby. But our number one goes to possibly
the most classic showdown in the most classic American sports movie
in the most classic series. And the first, Rocky. About so much more than winning,
Rocky’s 15 rounds with Apollo Creed go down in cinema history as
the most iconic boxing match ever shot. It’s fun, brutal, memorable,
and so easy to cheer for, and it is the perfect example of what
sports showdowns are all about. Which is why we think it’s
the number one of all time. So what do you think? Do you disagree with one of our choices? Did we leave out one of your
favorite on-screen head-to-heads? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe for
more Cinefix movie lists.>>[MUSIC]

100 Replies to “Top 10 Movie Sports Showdowns”

  1. Movies worth a mention if not inclusion:
    The final scene of Love and Basketball.
    The Sandlot
    The Running Man
    And if you are talking motor sports:
    Cannonball Run
    Death Race 2000 (okay, not really, but just wanted to mention it).

  2. My favorite (American) football movie (also not earning even an honorable mention here) is "We Are Marshall," which I believe shows the importance of competition and what sport can mean to a community.

  3. Don't even see it scanning through the comments, but what about the original "The Longest Yard"? Maybe it's because I'm not a football fan, but that is about the only time I've ever cared about a football game.

  4. I second that: Rollerball, 1975, with James Caan. And you had to have one of car racing: Grand Prix, whose musical theme, written by Maurice Jarre, became synonym of car racing for the following decades.

  5. As a rugby fan, the rugby scenes in Invictus were shockingly bad, even if they were aiming to portray the sport in the mid 90s. Whilst the scenes with Mandela in are quite interesting, the rugby scene looked almost nothing like real rugby and it definitely seemed like it was filmed by Americans who knew nothing about the sport.

  6. What, no horse racing! You managed to pick one of the 3 hockey movies in existence and couldn't give, what amounts to a whole genre of movie, horse racing, a mention. There are like 20 movies out there called Black Beauty alone and Seabiscuit and War Horse, well Ok not War Horse, but you know what I mean.

  7. I will add my name to the Rush chorus. I will, also, add that you shouldn’t say “The Hustler” then show a scene from Color of Money. And, further note that you did not do a very good job of conveying the central dilemma of Victory! though I think it’s inclusion was an insightful choice even if it does not necessarily deserve a spot in the top 10. (The only reason it might is because of it’s inversion of the sports movie trope of it being about winning which you somehow failed to highlight.) (Also, please note, all criticisms are based on my general regard for the quality of your work.)

  8. When We Were Kings should have gotten a mention here, this was a real fight chronicling the Rumble in the Jungle.

  9. Great list! You could (please do!) do an entire list on baseball movies. Cobb, Field of Dreams, 8 Men Out, Major League, there are so many that run the gamut from mockumentary to slapstick to love story, you name it.


    Robert Redford's Roy Hobbs actually takes the bribe and throws the game at the end of The Natural, if you actually read the book!

  11. As with Cinefix's Top 10 chase scenes, Frankenheimer gets snubbed again. GRAND PRIX (1966) is an incredible motor racing film that should have found a place on this list, or at least an honourable mention.

  12. For baseball, y’all really missed out on “For The Love Of The Game”. It’s an aging pitchers last game, and it happens to be perfect. It’s the whole emotional and physical struggle of the pitcher. The physical being his aching body, and the emotional being flashbacks of his falling out with his girlfriend. Oh, and the pitcher happens to be Kevin Costner. And where the hell was the little league game from sandlot? Or the chase scene with the beast?

  13. I get that Americans aren't really into Cricket but Lagaan is one of the greatest sports movies EVER. A story about destitute Indian Farmers having to learn an English sport during the Colonial era to beat the Brits at their own game with the prize of three years worth of no taxes…its a masterpiece that should have been on this list.

  14. These are all fine but horse racing movies should have been included. Seabiscut is so good it is one of the best sports movies out there don’t at me.

  15. To me easily one of the greatest sports movies is Race the Jesse Owens story…. And if you don't know who that is just look him up…

  16. To be honest I think the movie of Friday Night Lights sucks I've read the book and I loved it it was amazing but the movie I just don't like it it Strays pretty far from the book I just don't like it… I like the express the Ernie Davis story over it…. Which to me has probably the saddest ending in a sports movie…. When you watch it you will understand why I say that… It's heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time……there's so many messages in it that I don't see why it's not on the list

  17. I'm sorry but boxing goes to Cinderella Man…. It's real life based in the Great Depression that is a true story on boxing…. I like Rocky but Cinderella man gets me so much more…

  18. No horse racing? I absolutely love both secretariat and seabiscuit as portraits of horses who changed the lives of the people around them. And Biscuit's match race is legendary.

  19. Just missed Blue Chips in the list for Basketball and at all, The Wrestler is one of the greatest movies ever. Else, it is nicely done.

  20. Yeah you should’ve definitely done motorsports, you got Le Mans, Grand Prix, Rush and you could probably count at least the first fast and furious film

  21. Just for kicks, in Chasing Mavericks, Jay really did fall off his first wave in the competition. He became the youngest to ever touch bottom at Mavericks ~ some 40 feet down!
    Also, in Breaking Away, the crash at the end of the movie, right before he decides to get taped in, wasn’t scripted. It was supposed to be a generic shot of the feet and pedals. The cyclists accidentally locked up and crashed. It worked so well, the director or editor or whomever, kept it in the movie.

  22. What about "Varsity Blues" and the girl covering the good parts in whipped cream? "Dodgeball"… "If you can dodge a wrench…" scene? ???

  23. Sorry. A throw away mention of Major League just isn't good enough. Sure the story is cliche as hell. Many of the subplots are even more so. Even the "we can do this, if only to prove that bitch wrong" isn't exactly unknown in sports movies.

    What Major League has is 1) some genuinely great dialogue, 2) the actors put more into it than the story really deserved–which strongly suggests the directing was top-notch; and 3) most importantly, the BASEBALL WAS BEAUTIFUL. I understand why you picked the Natural (Don Joe Baker playing Babe Ruth was perfect), but serious, go watch Major League again, paying special attention to the baseball parts. Just beautiful.

  24. (Psst. Those are marigolds, not peonies. Probably the least important point anyone has made in these comments. Sorry.)

  25. I didn't play football but I watched Friday Night Lights the night before I graduated high school and that is what made the whole experience feel real. I freaking love that movie.

  26. LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN!!!!! COME ON! Between sister and sister and the lose. Best sport movie ever. And best sport showdown ever. Do this list over.

  27. I think you could give a retroactive shoutout for your number to Bleed For This. Miles Teller is on fire as Vinny Pazienza, a boxer who nearly ends up out of the ring permanently with a broken neck and one driven boxer won defies all odds to win

  28. LAKAAN is missing a reference at least. Just over two hours in, and the cricket match starts…and goes on for an hour and a half. And its gripping, emotional, infuriating and in the end you can't believe you loved watching that much cricket. Then there's that moment at their darkest hour that lifts them up…so beautiful.

  29. It should be pointed out here ****SPOILER ALERT**** that Rocky actually loses the match against Apollo in the first film. Which seems kinda bizarre considering its triumphant ending, but it's one reason why I like the initial installment as much as I do. Going the distance was the goal Rocky set out for himself, and that's what he was able to accomplish despite the odds against it.

  30. I'm glad it got an honorableish mention, but, as someone who played, wants to play again and loves rugby, because of the film Invictus, I wish you had taken out one of the basketball movies for Invictus. But as always, great job Cinefix.

  31. Long Gone from the 80s. Great baseball movie and William L. Peterson is fantastic and the finish is just 2nd to The Natural…also, Rodney Dangerfield from Back To School

  32. Speaking of bowling movies and not mentioning "Kingpin".


    (Especially after those sick Ska tunes in the Extreme Sports bit.)

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